Initial Steps That You Can Take

In the first three articles of the series, we have discussed things to do, along with what to avoid, when attempting to parent a child(ren) with someone who is disrespectful, rude, or dismissive of you and your parenting preferences. A review of those articles (Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 of this series) will bring you up-to-speed on good ground rules and practices that you should be using, if you find yourself in this situation.

Additional Help for You

When dealing with a high-conflict person, it is reasonable to expect that some level of parental conflict will likely remain, since such people tend to be relentless in their demands for unilateral control of their children. You must decide whether that level of conflict is manageable and, thus, acceptable; or, whether more needs to be done to manage the situation. If you decide that you would like for more to be done to resolve the conflict, then an often-effective process is to have the court appoint a Parent Facilitator (a neutral, third-party expert) to work with the parents on identifying problems, and implementing solutions.[1]

Court requirements of the Parents

When the court appoints a Parent Facilitator, both parents are Ordered to attend meetings with the Parent Facilitator, and to meaningfully participate in the facilitation process. This is important, because the high-conflict parent will almost certainly resist having anyone else discuss parenting issues with him or her. They usually are convinced that they know best, and anyone trying to discuss parenting with them is “interfering.”  And so, they should be ordered by the court to attend, and to meaningfully participate in that process.

What if One Parent Refuses to Participate?

If one of the parents, usually the high-conflict one, refuses to follow the court’s Order, then what happens? One advantage of a Parent Facilitator over a Parent Coordinator is that the Parent Facilitator will be required to submit reports to the court, which will discuss: his or her efforts to schedule facilitation meetings with the parents; whether progress is being made in those meetings; whether the process should continue, and so on.[2] Knowing that to be the case, both parents usually will be motivated to attend meetings, discuss parenting issues, and work on implimenting solutions, so that the Parent Facilitator’s report will not reflect a lack of participation by that parent (although the high-conflict parent will initially probably “discuss” how the other parent is bad or wrong, and how that other parent should just accept and appreciate the wisdom of the high-conflict parent). The court, of course, has various remedies to mandate that either its Orders are followed, or significant consequences occur, such as a finding of contempt-of court, and/or a change to the Orders pertaining to the parents and child.

When can a Parent Facilitator be Appointed?

The Texas Family Code provides that in order for a court to appoint a Parenting Facilitator, the court must determine that the case is either a high-conflict one, or that there exists good cause for such appointment. And, as with all Orders pertaining to children, the court must find that   that the appointment is in the best interest of the child. This determination by the court may be made following an agreement of the parties presented to the court, or after a hearing is set, and testimony, along with other evidence, is presented to the court.


Today, we discussed the basics of having a neutral, third-party expert, a Parent Facilitator, assist the parties manage their parenting relationship when it is high-conflict. In the next post, we will delve into the specific procedures and techniques used in that process, and what you can expect to occur in Parent Facilitation.

[1] State such as Texas allow judges to make these appointments in certain circumstances (one of those circumstances is when the case is found by the court to be high conflict.

[2] The other difference between the two (2) positions is that a parenting facilitator may also monitor the parties’ compliance with court orders.

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